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tv   Piers Morgan Tonight  CNN  December 16, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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here, but when the end came, respected by both. that's a really, really hard thing to be. >> it is, and it's the mark of an independent thinker and a fearless thinker. one of the great quotes i love him, and he has a whole great book of quotes. tonight, he plays piano and he sings a bit. ♪ starlight and a dozen roses too ♪ >> he's a matinee i'd m. he's often compared to frank sinatra. harry conic jr. wanted success in the big apple. his heart still belongs in the big easy. tonight a surprising and emotional look at a guy who seems to be living the dream.
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how he overcame childhood tragedy. >> i was at a piano recital. it was in the intermission my aunt jesse came and said your mother just died and brought me home. it was then i kind of realized for the first time she's not there anymore. >> and a traumatic brush with his idol. >> i said i have to ask you mr. sinatra you hit this high a flat. how did you do it? i just opened my mouth and it was there. >> this is "piers morgan tonight." ♪ i'll take you just the way you are ♪ harry connick jr., welcome. >> thank you. >> you are a man of so many hats, it's ridiculous. a singer, pianist, big band conductor, a composer, and actor. three grammys, 25 million albums sold worldwide. you starred in a broadway musical "on a clear day you can see forever." and you have your first children's book. not content with dominating every other genre of entertainment, you're into the kids' market. >> well, i guess what makes me want to do this stuff is that i guess what drives me is real interest in all of these different areas. and it was never really about --
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i know you were joking about dominating these areas, but it's never really been about that for me. things kind of happened organically. broadway sort of happened out of a career in performing. which happened out of practicing piano when i was a kid. and this just seemed like a natural sort of transition after this -- we did a children's musical. it just seemed like a fun thing to be a part of. >> do you think you're part of a dying breed, an all-around entertainer? there aren't many of them these days. >> i don't know how many of them there are or aren't. i just -- i do think i'm -- i like to think of myself as kind of an all-around entertainer. i just don't know how many opportunities a lot of those entertainers have anymore. being on broadway, like we're rehearsing for this show now, piers, this room is filled with the most talented people in the world.
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i mean, these people who work on broadway in my opinion are the most gifted of everyone. i mean, they really know how to dance. they really know how to act. they really know how to sing. they know how to perform. and outside of a broadway context you have to wonder because things are so compartmentalized now, how many opportunities do these sort of all-around performers really have. >> what is the thing you most enjoy doing? if i cut off your cord to everything else and left you with one thing, what would you do? >> i guess play piano. you know. because that's the thing i started doing. when i was a little kid. so that goes back to when i could think, you know, sitting at the piano when i was 3 and 4 years old. it would be unfortunate to have -- >> you played mozart at the age of 5, right? >> no. i was playing "when the saints go marching in" at the age of 5. but that's mozart to me, man. >> that's the modern mozart. that's the modern mozart. when was the moment -- obviously, your parents realized i think quite early on that you were very gifted musically. when was the moment you thought this could be more than just a hobby, this could be my lifetime
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thing? >> well, my dad was the district attorney of new orleans for about 30 years, and when he opened his campaign headquarters back in the early '70s, when i was 5 years old, my mother wanted me to play the national anthem. and they got a upright piano on the back of a flatbed truck, and i played it. and i think it was from that minute when i kind of looked over the piano and saw people were interested probably more in the novelty of a 5-year-old playing than anything great that was happening musically, but the feeling i got of sort of being the center of attention because of something i love to do, it was from that moment on when i said everything else is going to come second to that. i mean, it was just -- i had blinders on to be a performer. >> and you were brought up in new orleans, the sort of home of music. i guess everywhere you go there you're surrounded by people entertaining. >> right. >> it must be a great inspiration to anyone in that business. >> i mean, it's unbelievable. not only is it inspirational, but it's so functionally instructive. i mean, to have -- some of these musicians that i grew up playing with were playing with louis
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armstrong in the '30s. >> amazing. >> yeah, it really is. so to be there as, say, a 6-year-old in a club on bourbon street and have them say oh, harry jr. come on up and play with us and i'd play whatever song i play. and then the next week they'd call me up and i'd play a different tune. and on the break they would show me, hey, man, this is what you're doing right, this is what you're doing wrong. i mean, to have that kind of tutelage sort of from -- firsthand -- >> you can't buy it, can you? >> you really can't. >> extraordinary experience. >> it was incredible. >> tell me about your parents. >> well, my mother, i knew until i was 13. she decide when i was 13. she was from new york. a jewish background. and met my dad when they were working for the government in morocco. and they got married in 1953, moved back to new orleans. my dad was from mobile, alabama and then grew up in new orleans. so they came back to new orleans. they both were lawyers.
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and they had a record store in the '50s, about ten years before i was born, to sort of make money to put themselves through law school. and by the time i came around in '67 they were both practicing law and my mom and i were super tight. i think she really wanted me to be an artist. she used to like to tell people she wanted to be beethoven's mother. that was her thing. she wanted to be the mother of this person. and my dad, although he was very busy politically, always found the time to support me, to set the right example for me. and i have an older sister too who's another hero of mine. >> what was it like in your family? you were brought up not in a strict way but just taught to be very respectful. if somebody older than you walked in the room, you should stand up. >> yeah. that's a southern thing, though. do they do that in england? is that a big deal? >> you know, england used to be a bit like that. i think it's lost its way in the
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last sort of 25 years. it's nowhere near as -- when i go down to somewhere south here, if i go to dallas or houston or somewhere, i'm always struck by people calling me sir and the level of natural politeness. >> it's true. >> much more pronounced here than it is in england anymore. >> is that right? >> yeah. >> i remember the first date i went on with my wife and i pulled the chair out so she could sit down. and she said no, i would like to sit there. i said no, i'm pulling it out for you, baby. that's the way we were taught. but it was you know, the guy walks behind the girl when she's going up the steps, in front of the girl when she's going down. and you never give a one-word answer. you don't say harry, did you do your homework, yeah, i did -- i mean, you say yes, sir or yes, ma'am. it's just what -- that's just the way we did it. but it was also, i mean, when your dad is the d.a. and your mother is a judge, it wasn't about being respectful -- i mean -- >> you've got to behave yourself. >> yeah. there wasn't a whole lot of room for messing around.
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>> a lot of pressure for a young man i would imagine growing up in new orleans. >> that's right. >> you spoke very movingly about your mother. awful age to lose a mother. age 13. i've got a son about that age now. you're becoming a young man. to lose this woman who is so close to you must have been a really huge blow at the time. >> piers, it was the worst thing probably to this day that's ever happened to me. and there were years and years and years when i didn't want to talk about it, when i was in my 20s. and i started to accumulate some -- i was more in the public eye. people started to know who i was. i would never talk about it. i'd get angry with journalists if they would even bring it up. it was just off limits. and it took me a long time to finally realize that it's okay to talk about it and you know, she was my mom. i had her for 13 years. before i was born she started a diary to me and a second one for my sister. and she didn't know what sex we were going to be because we hadn't been born yet. so she said dear baby, you know, you're in my tummy right now. and from that moment till i was
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13, man, i have every birthday party, every gift that was given to me, every piano recital. everything was documented. and i look at that now, and i thank god. i had her for 13 years. that's all i had her for. but man, it was profoundly impactful to me. >> she had cancer. >> yes. ovarian cancer. >> did you realize that she was dying? >> i knew she was not feeling well. but at the time she got cancer i was 10. my sister was 13. and we were a little bit young. maybe my sister might have known. i knew she had cancer, but i thought, you know, she's going to get through this, she can get through anything. and it wasn't until the day she died. she came home from the hospital. everyone knew that she was going to die. and i'm sure she wanted to die at home. and i remember her sitting in this little recliner chair, and i would go into the other room and we have this -- she had given me a seven-foot yamaha grand piano. and you mention mozart. it was the mozart concerto that she loved for me to play. i would play that. i'd go running in, what did you think?
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and i'd go run and play some more, what did you think? and then the day she died my aunt jesse -- my dad had sent us out. i think everybody knew that was the day. i was still oblivious to it. and i was at a piano recital and it was in the intermission where my aunt jesse came and said your mother just died and brought me home and it was then i kind of realized for the first time, you know, she's not there anymore. >> your father obviously had to carry on the family. i mean, it must have been incredibly tough for him too. and you developed a very strong bond with him subsequently. >> yeah. my dad is my hero. i mean, he's 85 now -- >> he still lives in new orleans. >> mm-hmm. he still lives there. and he's in great health. he's handsome and strong and got an incredible moral and ethical backbone. i just am -- i couldn't have been luckier with my parents. >> what would she have made of
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what's happened to you, your mom? >> oh, my gosh. >> i mean, having been the driving force for you to live your dream. >> yeah. >> she never got to see you realize that dream. >> well, i'd like to think that she's seeing it now in some capacity, you know. in some way that i don't understand. but i feel her. obviously, she's not really here. but you know, where i really see her, piers, is in my kids, man. i was at rehearsal for this broadway show the other day, and my oldest daughter, georgia, came. and i think georgia looks like my mom a little bit and has some of the sort of -- my mother was -- had -- it was almost like she had a sixth sense about her and she was very kind of gypsy-like in her ability to understand people and situations. and my oldest daughter has that in her personality. and she came into rehearsal. hey, dad. i couldn't go over to her because i was in the middle of a scene. and david turner, this brilliant actor, i'm lucky enough to share
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the stage with, said, "i've never seen like a daughter show -- as a 15-year-old show that kind of love to their dad." so i think my mom, she has to be manifested through them some way. i don't know. i just feel -- i feel more happy than sad. and i think it's because of my wife and my children. >> you've had an extraordinary marriage. i want to talk to you about it a bit later. and you're surrounded by women. >> i wouldn't have it any other way. >> same for all of us. let's have a break and come back and talk to you about another very difficult time for you, which was hurricane katrina. obliterating the place that you grew up. and how you played a big part actually in helping it rebuild itself. ♪ all the way ♪ happy to be near you ♪ when you need someone to cheer you ♪ ♪ all the way ♪ taller than the tallest tree is ♪
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that's where i grew up, where that breach in the levee was is my neighborhood. how can you -- i mean, the storm was over, and then this started. >> that was harry connick jr. in new orleans after hurricane katrina hit. i mean, you went pretty well straight down there. when did you hear about it, and how quickly did you realize how bad it was? >> i heard about it on -- i knew the storm was coming. i mean, we get storms all the time in new orleans. i mean, i was worried, you know, that my dad's house wouldn't lose power and things like that. but, i mean, who would have predicted that type of devastation would have occurred? i got down there -- let's see. the day after the levee broke. and that's what freaked everybody out. i mean, we grew up right there by those levees. i mean, we played on them. that was just -- it's just like a big old hill with a concrete barrier on the top.
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and that was just the place we hung out. you just couldn't conceive of these levees actually breaking. but that was a mess. i mean, just unbelievable. unbelievable. it was scary. >> and when you got there and saw the scale of devastation, i mean, as someone who had been born there, raised there, what was going through your mind? >> it's hard to articulate, piers. i remember going past the cemetery where my mother's buried. she's buried with my grandparents. and it's literally a lake. people that don't know new orleans, it's below sea level. so you can't bury people underground. you have to bury them above the ground. and those tombstones and whatever monuments that there were marking the grave sites were underwater. the entire thing was -- i'm thinking like everything from where's my mother's bones, you
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know, where's my dad, like where -- you know, it was like a nightmare, man. and the fact that it happened in new orleans was really strange. going down to the convention center and seeing thousands of -- piers, there were like 15,000 people at the convention center. not at the superdome where all the press was, but there were people having seizures. there were people without medication. and i'm not talking about poor black people. i'm talking about everybody. i mean, there were just people who did not have the means of getting out of new orleans. they were all there. and i showed up, and a lot of people know me. i remember this old white woman came up to me and said, i haven't had my heart medication in three days. they told us to come here. they said they would pick us up. do you know anything? and i'm saying, oh, my god. like this is -- we're not in a third world country here. this is -- >> and yet the authorities seemed to behave like they were in a third world country. i mean, the speed of reaction was scandalously slow. when you look back at it, why do you think that was?
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why was it not just obvious there was this awful disaster unfolding? >> well, i'm not privy to all of the details that unfolded and led people to make certain decisions. i do know that off the air we were talking about my manager ann marie wilkins. i've been with her for a long time. and she said this is not the time to blame anyone. at least for you, harry. she said don't blame anyone, just do what you can. and i realized as time went on i never did -- i didn't need to blame anyone. i mean, the problem was there. what do we do to fix it? and since then we've established, along with habitat for humanity and my dear friend branford marsalis, the musician's village and the ellis marsalis center for music. and all that was done without saying look what you did, look how you messed up -- >> president bush in his own memoirs, which i read recently, he does accept criticism for quite a lot of his actions, not least of all looking down from the plane and being photographed looking down and stuff like that. but he sort of lays a lot of the
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blame on a more local level, that he was prohibited from sending in the national guard and stuff. i mean, i sort of read it and thought, well, if you're the president of the united states and you've got so many of your people dying in such horrific circumstances you just throw the rule book out, don't you? you just do what it takes. >> well, you know, you'd like to think so. but it was a traumatic time for everybody. i was down there doing some -- the only way i could get down there is bob wright, the former president of nbc, was kind enough to get me down on his plane. he said would you do some correspondence work down there for us to let us know what's going on. i said heck, yeah, i'll do whatever it takes as long as you get me down there. and i had a satellite phone. and when i was at the convention center i stood up on a chair because it wasn't about trying to figure out who did what wrong. i was like, hey, y'all need to send people over here. there's people who haven't had food and water for a number of days. there were dead bodies there. there were people seizing. there were people without medication, without any kind of
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plumbing or electricity. no utilities at all. so it wasn't about -- it was about people stepping up and doing what they could. at this point what good is it going to do to blame local or state or federal -- >> some people, you know, said it was kind of surreptitious racism, that it was the fact there were so many poor black people meant that the authorities didn't respond in the way if they'd all been middle-class white people. >> well, i mean, my dad's not poor and black, and he had a hell of a time getting out of new orleans. my aunt jesse and my uncle john were on their rooftop. and last time i checked they were as white as i was. so i don't know. really at this point in my relationship with that event, and this may upset some people to say, but who cares? like we just need to move forward. you know what i'm saying? people mess up all the time. they messed up then. whatever. what can we do? all i know is that we built 80 houses and brought a lot of musicians --
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>> let's have a break and come back and talk about how you helped rebuild new orleans after katrina. because it's a fascinating story. and i also want to know what it's like now down there. ♪ oh, won't you let me take you there ♪ ♪ fight back fast with tums. calcium rich tums goes to work in seconds. nothing works faster. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums
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with regard to trying to bring some of the people who were displaced back to new orleans, namely the musicians, you know, new orleans is known for its musical culture and heritage. we wanted to make sure that they'd have a future here. so we teamed up with habitat for humanity and came up with the idea of the musicians village. >> harry connick, jr. in new orleans after katrina struck. the rebuilding process was obviously very, very difficult. there was complete devastation in large parts of the city. you were there for a lot of those process and have been very integral in helping new orleans get back on its feet. how hard has it been? and where is new orleans now? do you feel like it's recovered? >> right after the storm i called my dad, and i said, we have to rebuild the city. he says, what are you talking about? i said, well, we need to put a coalition together of people and
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have a think tank. he says, have you forgotten like what your grade point average was in high school? and have you forgotten that you're a piano player? not -- he wasn't quite that abrupt. but what he was saying was, that's not what you do, you know, figure out something that you do. you're not going to be able to rebuild the city. so my manager, ann marie wilkins, and myself and branford marsalis said we know musicians. so i can't take credit for trying to rebuild new orleans, but i can take credit for being a part of the musicians' village, which i think is a great prototype and an example of how when people really focus they can sort of bypass the bureaucracy and make things happen. and we ended up building 80 houses in a very short amount of time. they're all inhabited now. 80% of the people living there now are musicians and their families. and we just built a multimillion-dollar community center right in the middle. so. >> and what is new orleans like these days? >> it's awesome. >> you know, i've never been. >> oh, my god! >> i'll have to correct this. i've never been to new orleans. always wanted to. >> maybe i could show you around one day. >> i would love that. >> maybe we could even do
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something, you know, for the show. it's an incredible place. it's my favorite city in the world. i've been all over the world. i love new york. i love paris. san francisco. so many places. there is no place like new orleans. it's got the best food. it's got the best music. it's got the best people. it's got the most fun stuff to do. it's got the french quarter. it is just like no other city in the world. and it's back. and people always say, well, should we go? is it time? it's time. it's definitely time. mardi gras's back. jazz festival is kicking. it's a party. it's a great, great town. >> what does your dad make of the last few years in new orleans? he sounds a wise man. >> with regard to? >> i guess with regard to how he dealt with -- he lived through wars and -- >> my dad's very hardcore. i think if my dad was still the district attorney or political in maybe some other capacity he would be very, very helpful to that city. i mean, he loves new orleans.
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>> was he scathing of the authorities? >> you know, we never really talked about it. i think he has his opinions, and i certainly wouldn't want to speak on his behalf. but we never really got into that. we never really did. it was about -- i know he must have felt something, as i did. but we were all concerned with what could we do to make it better. and he did what he could, and i did what i could. and we were very sort of encouraging of one another during that time. >> let's take another break. come back and talk politics. because i think you're -- underneath this gentle cheery exterior. i reckon you've got some strong views. >> now's the time to go to the kitchen to make a sandwich. ♪ to appease my mind ♪ i gave what i had to the winners just to get along ♪ ♪ but it's really hard to sing ♪ when nobody hears your song ♪ walking my own way
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♪ it's already sweet ♪ it doesn't need an oven because it's got a lot of heat ♪ ♪ just add a dash of kisses to make it all complete ♪ ♪ and that's the recipe for making love ♪ ♪ and if you've made it right you'll know it ♪ >> how many people do you think have made love to your music over the years, harry? >> i don't know if i want to think about that. >> i mean, literally hundreds of millions i suspect. probably happening as we speak. >> hey. could be. it could be. i'm glad to be a part of it. >> how do you feel about being
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the world's great seduction vehicle? >> boy, can you come home with me and tell that to my wife? because when she makes me put out the trash seduction isn't part of that order. >> just when i thought you couldn't get any more sickening in terms of the perfect life and career, i remembered that you actually married a victoria's secret model. >> well, that's my girl, man. >> how did you wangle that? >> i don't know. i was in los angeles. i was doing a recording. i was 22. i saw her walk past -- i was swimming in the pool at the hotel. and i saw her walk by. i recognized her. and introduced myself. and asked her if she wanted to have lunch with me. and she says, i can't, you know, i'm late to a photo shoot. and i said, please? ten minutes? and she said all right. and i couldn't believe i was sitting across the table from this girl. i just couldn't get over it. she was from texas. and she likes bud. you know, and she was laid back and just funny.
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and she had a strong handshake. and i said, man, this is too good to be true. and we just fell in love with each other. we've been together 20, 22 years. >> and you are hopelessly in love with you because every interview i read with you -- i read a q & a with you yesterday you did with a british newspaper. there were 30 questions. your answer to half of them involved your wife. >> oh, is that right? >> yeah. and i was very moved by that. >> i think it's pavlovian at this point. i just -- i'm afraid i'm going to get in trouble. >> i actually read like you meant it. like this guy just really loves his wife. >> she's my best friend, you know. i got really, really lucky. and you know how it is, man. you meet someone and you have kids. in this particular situation some people fall out of love, you know, and i get that, and it's very sad. and some people never find the right person. i have a lot of dear people in my life who sort of are in all of these situations. and some of them share what i am going through, which is i got really, really lucky, and i
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would -- i'd be crazy to ever think there was anything better than that. >> do you ever even mentally succumb to temptation, given the trillions of women that must just -- >> oh, no. >> -- throw themselves at you? >> no. >> you're harry connick jr. you get up on that stage and you start crooning about love. >> man, i've been with some of the most incredible women ever, of all time. like -- i get to work with hillary swank -- >> when you say been with, what do you mean? >> doing movies. you're talking about another -- >> i wasn't quite sure if i need a better translation. i thought you were coming up with an extraordinary boast. >> i wouldn't do it. i wouldn't do it here. i'd have to do something -- i don't know. i'd have to figure out another way to do it. no, i've been with these incredibly great women and i've seen -- like i mentioned hillary swank, renee zellweger, sandy bullock. ashley judd. you can't get more extraordinary than these people. and beautiful. debra messing. i mean, the list goes on and on.
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but my girl is my girl. i worked really hard for this ring. you know? and i'm not going to -- this is what works for me. i don't mean to pass judgment on anyone else. i have a lot of good friends who love dating many, many people at the same time. just what works for me is that i go home to my girl. >> people call you the new sinatra. and i'm sure you're sick and tired of that because you're the first harry connick jr. but you're very different to him. i mean, he was hard drinking, womanizing, tough guy, hanging out with the mob and all that kind of -- you couldn't be more different. could you? and yet you sing in a very sort of familiar, similar kind of way to him. >> well, there may be a few ways that our careers kind of look similar, you know. we both did -- we both are singers. we both are actors. but i don't know that guy. i have no allegiance to him. >> did you ever meet frank sinatra? >> i did, on a few occasions. and it was fantastic.
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he was the greatest singer of american song -- >> what did he think of you as the young upstart? >> oh, i don't think he thought of me like that. i mean, this guy had 40, 50 years of people saying they were upstarts. tony bennett was an upstart. you know? how old is tony? 80, 85 now? so he's -- all of that -- i don't think he even -- he didn't put much weight in me at all. because i met him when i was in my early 20s. and at that point i hadn't done anything of any worth. >> did he give you any advice? >> the closest thing to advice that he gave me was when i asked him how he hit this high a flat -- we did have a similar range. like his highest note was very similar to mine and his lowest note. so we had a similar group of notes that we could work with. and i said, mr. sinatra, i have to ask you, you hit this high a flat on this one song at this particular -- how did you do it? he said, "i just opened my mouth and it was there." you know.
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it's not like he took me aside and said here, son, here's the key -- >> i mean, it's not great advice because you need to be frank sinatra for it to work, right? but my father, who loved him, always said that sinatra's great trick was in his control of his breathing. is that true? was that a technical thing that he had over other people? >> i wouldn't say that was what made him great. he had great lung control. he could hold notes out for a really long time. but i think what made him great, people talk about when tommy dorsey would -- you know what circular breathing is? it's when a horn player breathes in through his nose and breathes out through his mouth at the same time and you can hold a note indefinitely essentially. it's hard to do, but it's a skill you can acquire. singers can't do that because it's not applying pressure to a horn. and they said that he would do these things -- frank sinatra was the greatest lyric interpreter probably ever. and he was also incredibly knowledgeable as a musician. he knew what was going on underneath him.
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without getting really technical, he could accommodate what the lyrics were saying over whatever was going under him musically. so if there was a chord here and a chord here, there are two different chords that the orchestra was playing, he knew what those were. so if he needed to change a lyric or the rhythm of a lyric, he could kind of find common things in both chords. putting it in sort of layman's terms. >> that's unusual? >> highly. you have to be a freak show to do that. there were a few singers. like louis armstrong could do it because he was a musician. billie holliday could do it. but rarely were singers able to really do -- >> and is that one piece of advice he gave you, have you
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been able to do it? >> i still can't hit that note. not even close. >> you've managed to skillfully avoid talking about politics for the entire segment. and you'll be pleased to know i've noticed and so we're going to have another break and we're going to get stuck into obama, the republicans, the election -- >> i can't wait. >> -- in about two minutes. ♪ someone to cheer you ♪ all the way ♪ taller than the tallest tree is ♪ ♪ that's how it's got to feel e. you can't go wrong. [ male announcer ] don't miss red lobster's surf & turf. 3 grilled combinations all under $20. like our maine lobster with peppercorn sirloin, or our new bacon-wrapped shrimp with blue cheese sirloin for $14.99. i'm john mazany and i sea food differently. for $14.99. when you're a sports photographer, things can get out of control pretty quickly. so i like control in the rest of my life... especially my finances.
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happened back in 2002, the day he says he saw disgraced penn state coach jerry sandusky in the shower with a young boy. mcqueary's testimony convinced the judge to go forward with the trial. cnn's jeff toobin thinks it may be a tough case to win. we'll tell you why. also tonight, the death of author christopher hitchens. as an atheist he criticized mother theresa, compared heaven to a, quote, celestial north korea, and wrote the best-selling book "god is not great: how religion poisons everything." shortly after his diagnosis he and i sat down for a fascinating conversation. we'll play you part of that tonight. those stories and the "riduculist" at the top of the hour. more "piers morgan" in a moment.
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♪ look at me. you think you've lost that. i can still see it. bill can't see that. >> you don't know anything about bill. >> i know that bill could let you go. damn, birdie, when are you going to face up to the fact that he
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ain't coming back for you? >> sandra bullock in the movie "hope floats." before we go any further, you have managed -- you are actually a politician, ironically, because you've managed to skillfully distract me again with this brilliant story you've just told me in the break about sinatra. retell that story. >> all right. i was singing for mr. sinatra at his 75th birthday party. and every great singer in the world was -- >> i was there at the beverly hilton in l.a. >> yeah. >> i was there. >> do you remember that? do you remember how bad i was? >> you were terrible. you sucked. i remember that. >> i did suck. >> i didn't know it was that one. >> yeah, that's the one. and essentially, to get to the more important part of the story, i messed up the song and i felt that i had blown a great opportunity to at least in theory impress my hero. so after i got off stage i saw him walking through the lobby with his wife. they couldn't find his car. his limousine had gotten lost somewhere. he was very upset. and he went to the elevator to go upstairs i guess until they find his car.
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and i was with jill, and we weren't married at the time. and i said i have to use this opportunity to explain to him that i'm better than what he just saw. ran into the elevator. and the doors close. and he was very upset. and my wife, girlfriend at the time, was saying, you should probably leave him alone. but there i was in front of him, two feet away from him, and i said, "mr. sinatra, i'm harry connick, i'm the guy who just sang for you and messed it up" and blah, blah, blah. and the doors opened. and it would have been in my mind a perfect opportunity for him to sort of put his hand on my shoulder and say young man, you know, you carry forth, you know. but he went to my wife and sort of cradled her face in his hands and said, "you're beautiful." and he kisses her right on the lips and left. and she still teases me about that, you know. >> he didn't even reply to you. >> didn't even look at me. >> i mean, the greatest just smackdown i ever heard. >> it was awful. >> so not only did you suck.
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i just kissed your wife on the lips. >> and it wasn't like some joe schmo. it was frank sinatra. you know. that's like the time she got her picture in between paul newman and robert redford and she just kind of pushed me out of the way. she doesn't do that. she's very cool. but she had -- you know and she still says i got my picture -- i can't compete with these guys. >> what you should have done was smacked him straight on the nose. >> yeah, right. >> that's what any real man would do, harry. >> somehow i don't think i'd be doing this interview if that had been the outcome. >> actually, i think you probably would. let's turn as i've been desperately trying to do for some time now to politics. >> okay. where did you get that tie, piers? >> are you political? i mean, you were very motivated by what happened to your hometown of new orleans. but generally, do you get fired up by politics, by what's going on to your country? >> i like to watch sort of from afar and learn what i can. just as a citizen. but for me there's a very definitive line between having strong feelings about where our
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country's going and actually being vocal about it. i'm not going to lie to myself or anyone else and presume that i have a great wealth of knowledge like you or other people in the media have or even a lot of private citizens. there's times when i feel very confident about what i know, and there's times when i think it's more appropriate for me to sort of try to learn. so yes, i do have opinions, but i would never go public with them. that's just not my place. i don't think anybody wants to hear it. i don't really think i know what i'm talking about. >> we definitely want to hear it especially if you don't know what you're talking about. remind me of some of the political debates i've heard recently. do you watch the debates? >> i do enjoy watching them. >> i presume -- i don't presume anything with you because you might be republican given your background. do you veer to either party or not?
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>> i think right now it's interesting to see what everyone has to say. >> what catches your eye? from a pure theatrical point of view, who is the one that you think, yeah -- >> out of the republicans? >> yeah. >> oh, gee. well, i think a couple of them are interesting. i don't know if i subscribe to everything that they're saying. >> did you vote obama last time? >> i did. i voted for him. very proudly. i had the very unique privilege of meeting him when he was a junior senator and was very impressed with him as a person. i liked what he had to say as a man, as a husband, as a father of girls, which i can relate to. and i felt like i knew a little bit about what kind of guy he was. my manager, ann marie, her husband, david wilkins, a professor of ethics at harvard law school, had known them for quite some time and i felt like hi some information that maybe i
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wouldn't have had about him as a person and what he knows. >> now i know why you're so squeaky clean. your manager's husband is is a professor of ethics. >> it's kind of hard to veer out of my lane, you know what i mean? >> i want to have another break and come back and talk to you about morgan freeman. there's a reason for this madness. when he came on my show lately, he was really efusive about you, really efusive. i want to get your really embarrassing reaction. ♪ all i know never goes away snuggie pork pie hat oshkosh socks 5% cash back. right now get 5% cash back at department stores. it pays to discover. everyone believes in keeping their promises once a year. but we believe in helping people take steps to keep them every single day. that's why every day we help people across the country get into their first homes.
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you know, harry, he's just a regular guy, who happens to have this incredible talent. and i -- i'm an actor. that's really all i do. but i love to sing. so i'm always singing, to myself. i sing to entertain me. you know, if you hear me and you say, oh, you sound good, then i'll entertain you. >> morgan freeman there, on this very show. i mean, you could be responsible for making morgan freeman do some albums. i'm not sure it's a good thing. >> he should, man. the guy can sing. >> can he sing? >> he really can. if you break down some of the real simple elements of a voice, like the tone, he has a very
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nice tone to his voice. >> i suggested to him he could be the new barry white. he's got that love thing going down. i thought he was brilliant, morgan freeman. i thought he was one of the most entertaining people i've ever -- >> he's a great guy. >> hilarious. >> really funny, really, like off the charts smart, and he's got like a nice vibrato when he sings. i had an idea to do a cd, and i'm thinking about calling it "the act of song," and getting academy award winners, who aren't known as singers, to sing. like to collaborate with -- >> great idea. >> -- morgan freeman. maybe he could write lyrics, i could write music, or do a standard, do something. and i asked some of my friends like hillary swank and renee zellweger if they'd be interested in doing it.
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because i just think people would love to hear those great minds interpret lyrics, because they're so brilliant. >> are you going to do it? >> i'd like to do it. you never know how those things pan out, you know. >> if morgan passes, i'm available. >> where'd you get that tie again? >> tell me about the new broadway show you're in. because it sounds exciting. >> man, i am so -- i'm more excited about this than i've been in years, about a project. it's called "on a clear day you can see forever." it's a wonderful musical that was done on broadway. barbra streisand did a movie version of it back around some time in 1970. i can't remember exactly when. and michael mayor, the brilliant director, is directing us. i'm surrounded by -- the only way i can put it is super freak talent. i've got this beautiful young woman named jessie mueller, who's from chicago, who she will be a tremendous star after this. she's an incredible talent. and this incredible young man named david turner. and i'm just -- you know, i play a psychiatrist who hypnotizes a
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young man and his former incarnation of himself is a woman from 20 years ago, and i fall in love with her. and the only way to get to her is to hypnotize him. so it's this interesting love triangle. it's got some of the greatest songs ever written. >> i'm assuming there'll be some hot tickets for me here, harry? >> absolutely. it's called s.r.o. are you familiar with that? >> what's that? >> standing room only. >> i didn't expect you to sing for your supper tonight, but i've just seen, this was produced by one of my researches, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. one of my favorite sound tracks. and i just thought it would be appropriate to just round things off with just a few bars of "it had to be you." >> sure. >> take it away, harry. >> should i sing to you or should i sing to america? >> uh, i think you should sing to me. it's a lot more awkward. >> okay, i'll do the first line to you